Prize giving and closing ceremony of the 21st annual conference
The moment when the prize-winners are announced is always the high point of each year’s annual conference: the students who have taken part in the competitions await this moment as if it were a result in the Olympic Games; and the results are awaited with a tinge of anxiety by the teachers and directors of the schools concerned.
In the Kuressaare Sports Hall humming with a thousand conversations, the closing ceremony went off with the same precision as the opening ceremony. The scenery was the same, and once again Süur Töll together and his wife Piret acted as master – and mistress – of ceremonies.
With his now familiar conciseness, Neeme Rand summed up the conference: ‘We have reached the end of the conference, we have had a marvellous time, the conference has passed off without too many problems. Many thanks to all my colleagues for all their hard work. You have seen one season in Kuressaare, but there are four of them, and I would urge you and your families to come back to see the other three. The atmosphere has been amazingly positive and I do hope that you will come back.’
Neeme’s speech was followed by a performance from the Boys and Girls Choir from Saaremaa, singing a selection of traditional Estonian songs. This was another of those rare moments of freshness and beauty.
Mrs Mailis Reps, vice-president of the Cultural Affairs Committee of the Estonian Parliament, was obviously delighted to be there, and her pleasure was evident. She emphasised the point that the school had changed a lot, and that nowadays in Estonia public and private projects worked well side by side. She praised the ‘marvellous work put in by the teachers and students in the organisation of this Conference. Continue your efforts’, she went on, aiming her remarks at the entire audience, ‘Here in Kuressaare you have achieved a lot of different things. Keep your fond memories, and come back to see us again!
AEHT President Louis Robert also made a point of warmly thanking all those who had made this Conference possible, and especially Neeme Rand, to whom he handed a present as a token of his gratitude. But Louis also seized the opportunity to emphasise a few points about the competitions. He reminded the audience that ‘When the AEHT was founded 20 years ago in Strasbourg/Illkirch, there were 150 participants (including the present translator John Rees Smith) from 30 member schools in 15 countries. Today there are 430 schools located in 40 countries. There are rules and statutes as well as a set of house rules. On taking up membership, each member implicitly agrees to abide by these rules, but equally they are free to leave the AEHT. The same applies to the competitions. Over the last four years a special committee consisting of Romana Bauer, Helena Cvikl and Asdis Vatensdal has been working on the competitions regulations. It is vital to play by the rules, otherwise the committee members and the organisers are likely to become demoralised.’ Louis finished his speech, very much focussed on the need to follow the rules, by thanking the Vice-presidents, the General Secretary and the ‘eternal’ Translator. He extended his thanks to our sponsors for their generous support.
But before moving on to the prize-giving, the President made a point – and this was a first for the AEHT – of honouring the judges who had worked so hard during the competitions. The members of the competitions committee had the pleasure of presenting each and every judge with a certificate, as the audience applauded.
Then came the eagerly awaited moment of the announcement of the three best teams in each of the competitions. There was a specially constructed podium, the results were projected onto a giant screen, and for once there was no chaos!
The last part of the ceremony was the handing over of the AEHT flag from Kuressaare to Dubrovnik. Anton Perusina, director of the Dubrovnik school, received the AEHT symbol from Neeme Rand, to the thunderous applause of the audience. This time it is indeed Dubrovnik which undertakes the task of organising the 22nd Annual Conference in 2009. So see you soon ...